Success usually brings some very nice rewards to private equity firms: growth, wealth, nicer offices, larger staffs. In prosperous times, successful funds synergistically beget bigger funds, bigger deals and bigger profits -- the kind of profits the last buyout boom bestowed so liberally on many buyout practitioners.
But when ill winds blow -- and they howled in the last recession -- everything threatens to go in reverse. Firms with flagging performance may be forced to restructure. Funds that suddenly seem bloated and unwieldy may have to shrink. Distributions from carried interest may decline, shredding the loyalties of once stalwart employees. Now firms that once spun out from established buyout shops find themselves, in turn, spawning a new generation of competitors.
This year's gallery of private equity movers and shakers highlights six private equity fund managers who have struck out on their own in recent years. They are but a handful of firms that institutional investors dub "emerging managers," a category that's become attractive to investors since megafunds fell out of favor.
In some cases, as in Jesse Rogers' at Altamont Capital Partners, it's a return to what drew them to private equity at the outset: midmarket deals. Others such as Stefan Kaluzny have an entrepreneurial bent. Some such as Frank Baker and colleagues Peter Berger and Jeffrey Hendren at Siris Capital Group are banking on their expertise in turnarounds.
For the new kids on the block, such as former Platinum Equity LLC executives Chris Iorillo, Steve Rossi and Eric Willis at CounterPoint Capital Partners LLC, part of the narrative is building out platforms of niche businesses. Meanwhile, those who have been around the block, just to stretch the expression a bit, may simply want to reinvent themselves and explore new outlets for their creative impulses, as energy industry veteran Thomas Edelman and prominent energy investor Ben Guill are doing at White Deer Energy and Mitchell Blutt and Ben Edmands at Consonance Capital.
Whatever the reasons, these new shops face their own growth pains, unless they can claim decades-long track records. Raising a fund in today's market might be almost as difficult as proving that they can hold their own as independent entities. Nor is it easier for institutional investors who may decide to take a gamble on new firms, if only to prove that some changes could yield good things, too.